With horrifying scenes at airports and rolling strikes on railroads across the country, this could be the worst summer yet to strain the plane or train for the holidays.
So why not pay for a ferry to handle the hassle? Avoid the popular (and congested) route from Dover to Calais and experience lesser-known descents that can get you across France from quieter ports along the south coast.
Here are five of our favorite secret ways to reach France by ferry.
Avoid planes and trains and experience lesser-known crossings that can take you to France from quieter ports along the south coast
Plymouth to Roscoff
Roscoff in north-west France is not only the perfect base for exploring the coast of northern Brittany, the town is also a charming place that you will never confuse with grimy Calais.
Plants line the dockside buildings and 17th-century townhouses, and a stroll through Georges Delaselle’s gardens should quell any dizziness after a bumpy crossing.
Charming Roscoff (pictured) in north-west France is the perfect base for exploring the coast of northern Brittany
Roscoff is also home to the pink onion (there is a festival dedicated to it), while the restaurant at Hotel Le Brittany (hotel-bretagne.com) serves fish galore with a strong Breton touch; Don’t miss the veal chop sautéed with candied shallots and shellfish.
Where to sleep: Double rooms at the Grand Hotel des Bains (a 40-minute drive from Roscoff Ferry Terminal) are from £156 B&B (grand-hotel-des-bains.com).
Get there: Brittany Ferries (brittany-ferries.co.uk) runs up to twice daily from Plymouth to Roscoff with a journey time of five hours and 30 minutes. Round trip for two adults in a car from £258.
Newhaven to Dieppe
DFDS Ferries runs up to three times a day from Newhaven to Dieppe as pictured above
Dieppe may be unfashionable for many Francophiles, but the city’s chalk cliffs and harbor were once the home of the literary intelligentsia. Oscar Wilde is said to have written The Ballad Of Reading Gaol here, while Renoir, Monet and Whistler all stayed here.
Head to the Cafe des Tribunaux on Place du Puits Sale to soak up some of the boho vibe before visiting the Saint-Jacques Church.
Explore the history of the area at the Estran Cite de la Mer (estrancitedelamer.fr) when checking the sea level; Dieppe beach may look like a pure pebble beach, but at low tide a small strip of sand is revealed.
Where to sleep: Double room in Hotel Windsor (hotelwindsor.fr) cost from £94 B&B.
Get there: DFDS Ferries (dfds.com) runs up to three times a day from Newhaven to Dieppe with a journey time of four hours. Round trip for two adults in a car from £102.50.
Poole to Cherbourg
It takes just four hours and 30 minutes to sail from Poole to Cherbourg with Brittany Ferries
Stock up on crêpes at the Place de Gaulle market in Cherbourg (stock photo)
Everyone knows Titanic left Southampton, but not many know that the ship also stopped at Cherbourg in north-western France before its fatal voyage to the United States. The story of this port city’s role in the ultimate disaster story is explained in the Cite de la Mer Museum (citelamer.com).
If your sea legs aren’t too shaky from the ferry, climb to the top of the 19th-century Fort du Roule for views of the naval arsenal and marina, as well as a Liberation Museum (cherbourg.fr).
Relax with a trip to the Place de Gaulle Market (open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) where you can stock up on cheese, crepes, and unusually tasty apples.
Where to sleep: Double room at The Landemer (a 15 minute drive from the center of Cherbourg) from £160 B&B (de.le-landemer.com).
Get there: Brittany Ferries runs up to three times daily from Poole to Cherbourg with a crossing time of four hours and 30 minutes. A return trip for two adults in one car costs from £178.
Portsmouth to Caen
When visiting Caen, be sure to visit the stunning 11th-century Chateau de Caen (pictured), which houses artworks by Delacroix and Tintoretto
William the Conqueror’s Abbaye-aux-Hommes (meaning ‘men’s abbey’) grabs most of the headlines in this Norman town, but the 11th-century Chateau de Caen – home to the Musée des Beaux-Arts (mba.caen.fr) with works by Delacroix and Tintoretto – is equally impressive.
You will hardly notice how badly Caen was destroyed in the Battle of Normandy, but the Memorial de Caen (memorial-caen.fr) gives a definitive account of the war, complete with a Hawker Typhoon bomber plane and footage of the Nuremberg trials.
Where to sleep: Double rooms at Le Clos Saint-Martin are from £136 B&B (clossaintmartin.com).
Get there: Brittany Ferries (brittany-ferries.co.uk) runs up to three times daily from Portsmouth to Caen with a journey time of five hours and 45 minutes. A return trip for two adults in one car costs from £238.
Poole to Saint Malo
Condor Ferries runs up to four times a week from Poole to the beautiful walled city of Saint-Malo (pictured).
The ‘corsairs’ of Saint-Malo may have been known for their piracy, but on home turf they built estates known as Malouinieres outside this pretty walled town, many of which can be visited in summer.
Look closely and you can see the resemblance to an upturned ship’s keel in the appearance of the Malouiniere de la Ville Bague (la-ville-bague.com). From here you drive along the coast to the village of Cancale (30 minutes by car) where you can eat some of the best oysters in France.
Sit on the seawall and devour them by the dozen – they’re barely a pound apiece.
Where to sleep: Double Room at the Elizabeth Hotel (saintmalo-hotel-elizabeth.com) from £84 B&B.
Get there: Condor Ferries (condorferries.co.uk) runs up to four times a week from Poole to Saint-Malo. It takes six hours and 20 minutes. Round trip for two adults in a car from £320.